The Tragedy of Dido Queene of Carthage, by Christopher Marlowe

I have included in this facsimile the page of manuscript in the Bodley example inasmuch as it contains matter of interest to the student.

The reproduction from the original was made by The Clarendon Press, Oxford.


[Transcriber’s Note: The following paragraphs have been transcribed from a handwritten page. Some text is illegible, and this has been marked with asterisks where appropriate.]

The tragedy of Dido is one of the scarcest plays in the English language. There are but two copies known to be extant; in the possession of Dr Wright and Mr Reed.

Mr Warton speaks in his Hist. of Eng. Poet (III. p. 435) of an Elegy being prefixed to it on the death of Marlowe; but no such is found in either of those copies. In answer to my inquiries on this subject he informed me by letter, [crossed-out text] that a copy of this play was in Osborne’s catalogue in the year 1754, that he then saw it in his shop (together with several of Mr Oldys’s books that Osborne had purchased), + that the elegy in question —“on Marlowe’s untimely death” was inserted immediately after the title page; that it mentioned a play of Marlowe’s entitled The Duke of Guise and four others; but whether particularly by name, he could not recollect. Unluckily he did not purchase this rare piece, + it is now God knows where.

Bishop Tanner likewise mentions this elegy in so particular a manner that he must have seen it. “Marlovius (Christopherus), quondam in academia Cantabrigiensi musarum alumnus; postea actor scenicus; deinde poeta dramaticus tragicus, paucis inferior Scripsit plurimas tragedias, sc. Tamerlane.-Tragedie of Dido Queen of Carthage. Pr. Come gentle Ganymed. Hanc perfecit + edidit Tho. Nash Lond. 1594. 4to. — Petrarius in præfatione ad Secundam partem Herois et Leandri multa in Marlovii commendationem adfert; hoc etiam facit Tho. Nash in Carmine Elegiaco Tragidiæ Didonis præfiso in obitum Christop. Marlovii, ubi quatuor ejus tragidiarum mentionem facit, nec non et alterius de duce Guisio.” Bib. Britan. 1740.

I suspect Mr Warton had no other authority than this for saying that this play was left imperfect by Marlowe, and completed + published by Nashe; for it does not appear from the title page that it was not written in conjunction by him + Marlowe in the lifetime of the former. Perhaps Nashe’s Elegy might ascertain this point. Tanner had, I believe, no authority but Philipses, for calling Marlowe an actor.

There was an old Latin play on the subject of Dido, written by John Rightwise and played before Cardinal Wolsey + again before Queen Elizabeth in 1564. There is also another Latin play on this subject Dido, tragedia nova so quatuor pri*ibus *** **************** Virgilii disampla Antwerp ed, 1559.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:58